News / Asia

Karaoke and Counseling: Japan’s Tsunami Survivors Try to Rebuild

Henry Ridgwell

It has been nearly a year since the huge tsunami hit northern Japan, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying entire settlements.  Many survivors are struggling through the winter in shelters or temporary housing.  In the town of Ofunato reconstruction efforts well underway.  But there is wide uncertainty among the survivors about the future of their hometowns

Karaoke is helping to heal the wounds of last year’s tsunami.  Traditional folk songs are favorite among the residents of Ofunato’s temporary housing, like Kazue Hashiguchi.

She says it is good fun and heals the heart.  She says gathering together in a group and singing and talking to each other is great.

This musical get-together is taking place on board a purpose-built truck currently touring Japan’s tsunami-hit coast, bringing counseling and karaoke to the bereaved communities.

Yoshinobu Konno is from the charity ‘Friends of the United Nations,’ which came up with the idea.

He says people who live in these small prefabricated houses lost their families and their homes and are often depressed.  He says they are often alone, they do not want to make contact with other people, they become introspective.  He says his group is concerned that people could die here alone in their houses.  He says his charity is intervening to try to prevent mental illnesses from taking hold.

Dozens of housing blocks have been erected in Japan in the months following the tsunami.  Visiting salesmen bring life’s essentials - and even the odd luxury like locally caught cod roe.

In a small cove below Ofunato, there is nothing left of the residents’ original homes.  Demolition teams have flattened the few structures that the tsunami left behind.

Ofunato was one of the worst hit towns when the tsunami roared ashore nearly a year ago.

Further south, a freighter still looms over Kesennuma town, carried several kilometers inland by the tsunami.

It is impossible to forget the horrors of a year ago, but the town is trying to move on.

A mini-village has sprung up to re-house businesses washed away.  Chefs and shopkeepers offer a taste of Kesennuma’s once-famed seafood.

Among them, Masayoshi Hatakeyama.  His traditional Japanese inn was entirely destroyed.  His new workplace may be cramped, but he says it is a first step on a very long road.

He says the tsunami destroyed a huge area so it will take a long time and hard work to get back to how it was before.  He says it will not be like it was before - they will have to create a new town.

Under the direction of a newly-formed Ministry of Reconstruction, this wrecked coastline is being transformed with astonishing speed.

Back in Ofunato, survivors say it will take much longer to rebuild their communities; many question whether anyone will want to live here at all.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid